TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Aug14/02)
27 August 2014
Third World Network

UNFCCC’s Technology Committee advance further work on key issues

Kuala Lumpur, 27 August (Hilary Chiew) – The Technology Executive Committee (TEC) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held its ninth meeting on 18 to 21 August in Bonn, Germany.

The meeting of the TEC this year also saw intense discussions on the preparations for the workshop on national systems of innovation, the future of the Poznan Strategic Programme, the linkages between the technology mechanism and the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC, and key messages to the Conference of Parties (COP), besides having a thematic dialogue on climate technology financing.

Developing country members warned against delaying the workshop on systems of innovation, which deals with the broader topic of enabling environments and barriers to technology transfer, as this would send a very bad signal to the COP.

The meeting also saw strong retort from two developing country representatives who were observers to the meeting, who registered their objections to a special presentation by Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer who is Co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III (WG III).  Edenhofer made a presentation to the TEC on the WG III contribution to IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report on mitigation of climate change.

In his presentation, he showed a controversial slide depicting regional patterns of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in relation to countries that were grouped according to their incomes.  (This was one of the most controversial issues at the IPCC’s WG III meeting early this year where data on GHG emissions growth by splitting up the countries using the World Bank categories of low income, lower-middle income, upper-middle income and high income countries in the draft Summary for Policy Makers was objected to by many developing countries on grounds that the methodology used was scientifically flawed. The final report did not have any reference to the income based categories.)

In response to Edenhofer’s presentation, the delegate from Saudi Arabia wanted her intervention to be formally recorded, recalling that the categorisation was rejected at the IPCC meeting as it was not based on established literature and was not accepted by governments. The Singapore delegate reminded members that the Convention does not make reference to countries according to income categories.

Chair Gabriel Blanco (Argentina) opened the meeting. Two new members – Ibrahim Kilicaslan (Turkey) and Zhang Xiaohua (China) were nominated to replace Jukka Ousukainen (Finland – Annex 1) and Wang Can (China – Asia-Pacific) respectively. Ousukainen and Wang resigned before their term ended.

Preparation of the workshop on national systems of innovation

Taskforce member Griffin Thompson (United States) briefed members on the preparation for the workshop that is scheduled for 13 - 14 October. He said national innovation system is an important concept to capture as regards the institutional arrangements, policies, skills and talents that are required to catalyse, accelerate and expand innovation and technology development. He said in order to let TEC has a systematic review of the concept, the taskforce has spent much time elaborating on the agenda and speakers. He noted that there is still a fundamental misunderstanding about national innovation systems and the misunderstanding is greater in the larger sphere of Parties (of the UNFCCC). He presented the revised agenda comprising of three sessions that build on one another.

A lengthy discussion took place with some developed country TEC members expressing the difficulty in getting high quality speakers on the topic; one member even proposed the idea of postponing the workshop, which drew sharp responses from several developing country members, who insisted that the workshop be held this year.

On the last day of the meeting, the agenda of the workshop was finalised and the speakers were decided.

Below are highlights of the exchanges that took place in this regard.

Antonio Pfulger (Germany), a member of the taskforce said although the agenda is pretty much advanced as far as the substance is concerned but it still faced a major challenge of finding speakers. He said given the short time until October and the sensitivities of this particular topic and the attention paid to this workshop, we want to make sure that we have the right topics and speakers. He was unsure that the workshop will work and if TEC will be in a position to develop some key messages for the COP and wondered if TEC will postpone the assessment (on enabling environment and barrier) to next year instead.

Kryzsztof Klincewicz (Poland), also member of the taskforce said the workshop should strive for perfection and not settle for a mediocre outcome. He said a lot of work was done since May with several tele-conferences and generated some documents. The list of speakers is pretty extensive now but the taskforce is in a cutting-down exercise but is not appropriate to disclose it before it is agreed within the taskforce, adding that he seriously think that by end of TEC9 meeting, the taskforce can finalised the preparation. He was worried that it might be difficult to get some good speakers for this important topic.

Zhang Xiaohua (China) as a new member of the taskforce said he was glad to work on this topic. He noted that there are still some gaps (in the preparation) but there is expectation for TEC to deliver by Lima (venue of COP20). He said as mentioned by Thompson, there had been in-depth discussion of the agenda and reckoned that they had (arrived at) a very good agenda and the remaining work is getting the appropriate speakers. He said that the workshop is just the starting point and not a one-time task that requires perfection, but rather it should open up discussions which will be continued, stressing that the work gets started before Lima.

Seyed Mohammad Sadeghzadeh (Iran) wondered why it is so difficult to choose speakers from a long list. If this is difficult then how are we going to tackle technology transfer for addressing climate change, he asked. He said that there is no justification to postpone the workshop.

El-Hassan (Sudan) in associating with Zhang and Sadeghzadeh said the topic is very dear developing countries and there is a mandate from Parties to prioritise it. He said the workshop is the only activity on this topic and it is difficult to go to the next COP without anything. He reminded members that the workshop was decided last year and the TEC had spent four months working on it. He warned that postponing the workshop will be a very bad signal.

Omedi Moses Jura (Kenya) added his voice in calling for the taskforce to work according to the schedule and believed that the TEC is still in good time to deliver something in Lim, adding that the workshop should be held according to the scheduled time.

Amel Zouaoui (Algeria) also supported the call for the workshop to be held in October.

Krzysztof Klincewicz (Poland) said the Chair is putting enormous pressure on the taskforce, registering his concern that people are looking at the workshop to address the topic of the enabling environment and barriers.

Kanat Baigarin (Kazakhstan) said we need this workshop to start discussion as soon as possible. In his opinion, any output from the workshop will be useful for the TEC to at least gain clarity and mutual understanding of Parties.

El-Hassan (Sudan) said he too preferred to take time to summarise the outcome of the workshop and is not putting a lot of expectation on this workshop to produce key messages to the COP but as a step to put the process forward.

Matthew Kennedy (Ireland) was uncomfortable that the workshop is going to happen, noting that there is a reputational risk if it is not of high quality. He said he did not understand why there was so much drama in this regard.

Pfulger (Germany) said he is of the view that the taskforce should continue to develop the agenda. Looking at the mandate, he said the taskforce should continue preparing key messages for COP20 and COP21 and the taskforce would need clear guidance from the TEC on when to produce the report.

Thompson (United States) said the agenda is as good as the speakers that speak to the agenda but the concern is (the quality of) the speakers. He would not want to jeopardise the topic by having second or third tier speakers instead of first rank speakers. He said the taskforce did not have a hidden agenda.

Sadeghzadeh (Iran), El-Hassan and Zhang were adamant that the workshop be allowed to go ahead and not to prejudge the outcome as the TEC needs to deliver something in this area of work on enabling environment and barriers.

The International Energy Agency representative said the topic of the workshop is of extreme interest to the agency and it is happy to offer support in finding speakers and provide a series of link to relevant information.

The World Trade Organisation’s counsellor from the International Property Division, Jayashree Watal said for the last year since the beginning of 2013, intellectual property rights (IPRs) has become a subject of the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council (of the World Trade Organization), which to the best of her knowledge is the only inter-governmental venue where governments put on record their views on IPR and climate change. She went on to share the links to the documents and noted that so far four meetings had been held with great amount of details and interesting discussion on various aspects of IPRs and innovations.

She was referring to the discussion on the topic of “Contribution of intellectual property (IP) to facilitate the transfer of environmentally rational technology’’ at the TRIPs Council meeting following the submission of the proposal by Ecuador on 27 February 2013 which put forward the need to review the TRIPS agreement in light of the need to transfer environmentally sound technology (EST), especially to combat climate change.

(The WTO TRIPS Council is the WTO member body that is responsible for administering and monitoring the operation of the TRIPS Agreement, a multilateral treaty that sets minimum standards for IP protection in WTO member states.)

Thompson (United States) in a sharp retort said this points to the issue that the taskforce is trying to focus on and that the workshop is not about IPRs but focuses on the issue of innovation.

To this, Watal concurred that the WTO has a wealth of materials beyond IPRs and much of it comes from the US and that there are many agreements beyond the TRIPS that is relevant to the work of the TEC.

The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development said that there is a diversity of views among countries on national innovation systems and hoped that those views will be reflected.

Climate technology financing:

Thematic dialogue on climate technology financing

The thematic dialogue began with the presentation by Amal-Lee Amin, Associate director of E3G titled Challenges, opportunities, good practices and lessons learned from climate technology financing.

She said the scale of climate technology investment would include US$10 trillion in additional energy investment to 2030 in order to keep temperature rise below 2°C shifting US$26 trillion from high to low carbon energy investment; US$145 trillion in infrastructure investment to 2030 needs to be made low carbon and climate resilient, noting that there are uncertainties regarding the costs of adaptation; and that investment in major economies are mainly low carbon from 2020. Amin said that there is need for understanding the specific challenges and risks to climate technology investment such as technology risks, market risks, capacity constraints, policy and regulatory risks, financial challenges and scale of investment challenges. As these investments are typically capital intensive, they posed specific financial challenges within developing countries: scarce availability of capital for public investment, poor credit-worthiness and lack of guarantees and lack of access to appropriate forms of credit.

During the panel discussion, co-Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) Diann Black-Layne (Antigua and Barbados) said that the biennial assessment of the SCF has a lot of information on climate financing in general.

She believed that the 2015 agreement will be the best way to get all countries to put in place an internationally agreed financial suite of policies and measures to enable climate technology financing which is not a role of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) or the Green Climate Fund (GCF). She said one of the success stories (in climate financing) of the UNFCCC is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which up to 2014, delivered US$17 billion worth of investment. To some extent, she reckoned that the CDM has been successful in transferring technologies. Black-Layne said that the TEC and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) should play an important role and that the TEC can provide guidance to the operating entities of the financial mechanism through the SCF.

Chair of the Advisory Board of the CTCN, Fred Machulu Onduri (Uganda) noted that engagement of private sector is important as most climate technologies are with the private sector and that direct link between the CTCN and the financial institutions can help mobilise resources. He also stressed on the need to translate Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) outcomes into requests with the CTCN to facilitate the replication of success stories.

Linkages between the Financial Mechanism and the Technology Mechanism

The taskforce on linkages between the technology mechanism (TM) and the financial mechanism (FM) presented a ‘draft value proposition paper” that summarises the work of the TEC that is of relevance for the FM. Members discussed the draft paper with an aim to provide possible elements of draft recommendations to the COP as well as possible topics for TEC briefs.

Noting that the draft paper laid out the hypothetical and theoretical linkages, Thompson (United States) said as the TEC is charged to deepen linkages between these two mechanisms, he would recommend that the first concrete step is to establish a process for dialogue between the three entities – the GEF, GCF and SCF – and the next step is to establish roadmap for on-going institutionalised dialogue with the three entities.

Black-Layne, co-Chair of SCF said a lot of finance for technology transfer especially in adaptation happened outside of the Convention, adding that the GEF focuses on mitigation technologies but only 2% of the finance for adaptation goes to financing technologies (for adaptation). She said defining climate technology is something that the TEC can look into especially with assessing the biennial assessment reports of developed countries. She said the SCF would like to see more work on the technology front with the participation of TEC in SCF’s forums. She also invited the TEC to look into providing inputs to the guidance for the Operating Entities (GEF and GCF) developed by SCF.

Members, in general, shared their frustration of not getting the attention of GCF but Chair Blanco (Argentina) said the TEC does not necessarily need to wait for other views before it can present its views on TEC briefs or submitting recommendations to the COP.

Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN)

Director of the CTCN Jukka Ousukainen provided an update on the progress of the Centre. He said the Centre would be fully functional in a couple of months. He said 93 national designated entities were instated worldwide and representatives from 74 countries have participated in CTCN trainings through regional trainings across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Two remaining rounds of training for Small Island Developing States in the Pacific and the Caribbean regions comprising 52 countries are scheduled for September 2014. He also said eight official requests for technical assistance had been received from six countries so far from the Network

Technology Needs Assessment (TNA)

The taskforce on TNA presented a draft paper on good practices of TNAs, technology action plans and project ideas as part of the TEC’s plan for review. The TEC is invited to identify follow-up actions including agreeing on a process for finalising the paper after TEC9 and to provide initial guidance to the taskforce on possible elements of draft key messages to the COP.

Klincewicz (Poland) said the paper is a good background document with collection of examples of TNAs but he was not sure if the examples could be considered good practices. Drawing members’ attention to the conclusion of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) 40 in paragraph 37 which ‘noted the need for Parties to enhance and follow up on the TNA process by further promoting the development and implementation of economically, environmentally and socially sound project proposals’, he cautioned that the selection of technology was widely based on the outdated TNA handbook which was developed several years ago. He urged all Parties to adhere to the criteria.

El-Hassan (Sudan), a member of the taskforce admitted that the paper has been rushed as the taskforce did not have enough time.

Wanna Tanunchaiwatana, technology sub-programme manager of the UNFCCC secretariat said lessons learnt from the first round of TNA (which started in 2002) will be beneficial for the second round. There is some information on good practices; the TEC can convey them to the COP, adding that the paper should be streamlined and made available to those engaging in the second round of TNAs.

Daniel Buira Clark (Mexico) said there is an obligation to share the good practices given that there is a second round of TNAs.

Chair of the Advisory Board of the CTCN Fred Machulu Onduri (Uganda) said it is time the TEC and CTCN work out modalities on how to turn these TNAs into actual implementation.

Vice Chair Kunihiko Shimada (Japan) commended the taskforce for its good quality work. He said TEC has to decide what it does with the paper and if it is comfortable going in the direction to publish it for outsiders which would require enormous amount of work but if it is just drafting key messages and recommendation for the COP then it is fine.

While agreeing that a 21-page document is very long and need to be shortened, Karma Tsering (Bhutan) said the document is an important one and it should be further improved and used for general circulation.

Chair Blanco (Argentina) explained that it will take too much time during this meeting to get into the details and suggested drawing some elements and give some guidance to the taskforce and see if it could come out with key messages to take to the COP.

The taskforce went into breakout session to work on the third day and presented the key elements on the last day.

Technologies for adaptation:

TEC brief

Taskforce member Omedi Moses Jura (Kenya) introduced the draft TEC briefs on technologies for adaptation on water and agriculture which were prepared in consultation with the Adaptation Committee (AC). The TEC is supposed to agree on a process to finalise the briefs.

Thompson (United States) wondered what do the AC members think about the briefs and we must get 100% acceptance from the AC. He cautioned that this is the TEC first foray with another entity under the Convention, stressing that the briefs have to be absolute gold standard quality.

Shimada (Japan) who is one of the four taskforce members from TEC (the other two being Viktoriia Shtets of Ukraine and Eduardo Noboa of Ecuador) said none of the AC members participated in the tele-conference but did provide written comments. However, he believed the relationship with AC has been good but it is up to the TEC to finalise the process and come out with concrete ideas.

Jura (Kenya) said the TEC has the advantage of having the taskforce but not the case for the AC. He said in future, the TEC could suggest to whichever organisation that it wants to collaborate with to appoint a focal point, noting that although AC members attended the joint workshop (with TEC in March).

Pfulger (Germany) agreed that the brief should be of gold standard and the TEC does not need to wait for the AC to tell it what to do. He said these are the two TEC briefs that address specific technologies and the potential audience maybe ministers, referring to the 93 NDEs that have been registered by the CTCN. He also said the briefs could be used to address the business communities to build some kind of dynamics.

Blanco (Argentina) expressed concern that members were moving away from the core issue which is facilitation of technology transfer. He said the briefs are dominated by technologies and implementation aspects and there should be a bit more focus on the technology transfer and development aspects such as what are the barriers and possibility for collaboration.

Zhang (China) said he would support the initiative of the taskforce and the work should be continued. He, however, opined that time should be better spent on mobilising resources from relevant organisations. For agriculture, he said, many organisations had identified the issues and members should mobilise them and name them in the briefs.

El-Hassan said there are barriers when it comes to south-south technology transfer and addressing the issues of barriers will help focus attention on it.

Possible areas for further collaboration with Adaptation Committee

Thompson (United States) and Shimada (Japan) noted again that better communication between TEC and AC is important to ensure success of the taskforce work.

Jura (Kenya) said members can all appreciate that there is a submission by the AC with suggestions that needs to be taken into consideration. He said the AC suggested that collaboration should be country-driven, linking TNAs to the NAP process by promoting TNAs at the initial stage of the NAP process.

Thompson (United States) recommended that the Chair and Vice-chair with the advice of the taskforce on adaptation to reach out to the AC to ensure better communication.

Chair Blanco (Argentina) explained that an email was received from the AC Co-chairs Christina Chan (United States) and Juan Hoffmaister (Bolivia) who apologised for not being able to make it to the conference call. He acknowledged that it is not that simple to improve cross-participation but he and Shimada are working on the communication link.

Evaluation of the Poznan Strategic Programme (PSP) on Technology Transfer

Chairing the discussion, Vice-chair Shimada (Japan) said this was a tough job as TEC has to report to the 41st session of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) meeting and the COP in Lima. (At its 40th session, SBI invited the TEC to evaluate the PSP with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of the Technology Mechanism, and to report back to COP 20 through SBI 41.)

A background paper prepared by the Secretariat under the guidance of TEC’s Chair and Vice-chair was presented and the TEC is expected to agree on further action to evaluate the PSP with a view to report back to the COP in Lima.

Recalling what resulted in the task from the 40th session of the SBI, Stig Svenningsen (Norway) said the PSP was established before the TM and it is now appropriate to see how the PSP and the TM can work together; what the synergies are as well as considering the discussion under the Adhoc Working Group on Durban Platform for Enhanced Actions about strengthening the TM.

Elfriede More (Austria) said a lot of questions were raised during the June (40th) session of the SBI where Parties noted that some of the task the GEF is doing in the PSP framework may now be a task of the CTCN and they also realised that they could not tell the GEF what to do but they can give guidance to the GEF Council and it is up to the GEF to decide about their mandate for the PSP. The discussion came along as the TEC was invited to provide concrete ideas or value of the work of the PSP on whether there are overlaps in the mandate for PSP and CTCN and how the TEC envisioned the future to be. She said based on recommendations from the TEC, the next SBI session can continue the discussion on the guidance the COP can give to the GEF.

El-Hassan (Sudan) stressed the point that PSP is established by the Parties and therefore it is our programme and not the GEF. He noted that the PSP is no doubt the only funding window that we have and which deals with the important TNAs while members are struggling to get a funding window on technology under the GCF. Unfortunately, he said, the pilot projects were not implemented due to project cycle limitation which takes more than four or five years. He said the pilot projects should be tailored towards helping developing countries to address barriers  especially in the technical assistance and capacity building aspects. The PSP and CTCN could collaborate in this area.

Kennedy (Ireland) pointed out that the memorandum of understanding between GEF and the COP which allowed the COP to evaluate the PSP every year and the technology transfer component of the PSP is embedded in mitigation. He added that the GEF funds projects and not institutions (like TEC). He also wondered if it is absolutely urgent to respond to the task.

Svenningsen (Norway) said it is a big expectation on the part of the SBI that members come up with smart solutions. He said perhaps the TEC can request the SBI to come out with guidance for TEC to work on it next year and the GEF can be asked to present an evaluation of the PSP to the TEC.

Thompson (United States) said if the TEC really wanted to get to the essence of the debate in June, it needed a broader scope to do a full-fledge evaluation of the PSP in collaboration with the GEF.

El-Hassan (Sudan) said there were no evaluation of the PSP so far but it is important to see how the programme enhanced the TM. However, he disagreed that the evaluation should be done by the GEF but by Parties and practitioners that work on this programme.

Klincewicz (Poland) pointed out that there is no mention of specific outcomes or evaluation modalities so it would be a bit of a stretch to ask for a formal evaluation. He said Parties will understand that the task of evaluating will be limited to the parts which are related to TM and the lessons learnt could go towards formulating some recommendations for the TEC to be taken to the COP. He called for a taskforce to be identified for this work as there is only three months to complete the job.

Diann Black-Layne, co-Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) pointed out that as the COP provides guidance to the GEF, the TEC could asked the GEF to prioritise funding and give breakdowns on where money was spent as she reckoned that a lot of money were spent except for actual transfer of technology.

Fred Machulu Onduri, chair of the advisory board of the CTCN said most pilot projects under the PSP were on mitigation and only one for adaptation and when the pilot phase is over there is no follow-up action. He said pilot projects should be translated into bankable projects. He said TNAs need finance to translate them into projects and actions that will realise the objective of the TM. On the PSP, he said members should not talk about killing the PSP but about its systematic transfer into the TM by incorporating the elements of PSP into the respective components of the TM meaning the TEC and CTCN.

Zhang (China) said he saw the task as a kind of strategic evaluation and not detailed evaluation and the TEC has an opportunity to strengthen the PSP and to enhance the effectiveness of the TM. He said members could look at mandate of the PSP and the areas it focused on and compared that with those of the TM and request that the PSP give priority to those areas of the TM.

Klincewicz (Poland) said it would reflect badly on the TEC if members do not react to the invitation from SBI. He said taskforce is the only practical way to deal with this task and he is unsure if the taskforce on strategic and emerging issue is the right one. He would proposed the establishment of a new taskforce which can be as big as having 20 members.

It was subsequently decided that the taskforce on ‘emerging issues’ would deal with this issue and work during the intersession period.

Key messages and recommendations to the COP

On the last day, members discussed the various key messages from specific activities of the TEC to be forwarded to the COP. They comprised of key messages on TNAs, adaptation, climate finance, linkages between the TM and FM. A zero draft of report on activities and performance of the TEC for 2014 and a report on the joint section of the TEC and CTCN was also deliberated.

As several of the key messages and reports received comments and needed to be amended, the reports could not be finalised. Some members suggested to resume TEC9 in October, in conjunction with the workshop on national systems of innovation.

However, developed country members asserted that there is no consensus for another meeting of TEC this year and preferred to use electronic means of communication to finalise the work. Developing country members were not confident that email communication was effective and preferred face-to-face meeting that can resolve issues effectively. In response, developed country members said they were willing to work late into the night to complete the work of all the agenda items.

After consultation with Vice-Chair Shimada and the secretariat, Chair Blanco said to work using electronic means is similar to his earlier suggestion for members to give him and Shimada the mandate to finalise the outstanding work as most reports had gone through several rounds of amendments. He said the revised documents could be circulated for comments and he did not expect too many changes.

The compromise was accepted by members with assurance that clear rules and guidelines for soliciting feedback will be circulated by the Chair.

The next meeting is fixed for the week of 9 to 13 March, 2014.